Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Conversations Between Gil and Cal

Gil: Hey Cal
Cal: Hi Gil, what’s up? How was your weekend?
Gil: Pretty good. We went up to Vermont to Chuck’s summer house.
Cal: That place sucks.
Gil: No, actually it’s pretty awesome. Well, it WAS pretty awesome.
Cal: What do you mean, “WAS”?
Gil: Well, Chuck got really pissed at us because we got drunk and did donuts on his lawn.
Cal: You did donuts????? On his lawn????
Gil: Yeah, I know it was pretty stupid.
Cal: Well, I don’t know if it was stupid, but it sounds pretty weird.
Gil: Why weird? He has a huge green lawn that just kinda begs you to do donuts on it.
Cal: That’s really gross, Gil. I think you need help. Wait, how many of you were doing donuts?
Gil: Um, four of us I guess.
Cal: Together?
Gil: Yeah, we were all in one car.
Cal: Wait, so you did donuts in the car? Together?
Gil: Yeah, how else do you do donuts?
Cal: Um, I don’t know, Gil, I’ve never personally done donuts. So you drove the car on the lawn and then did donuts in the car?
Gil: Yup.
Cal: Let me ask you something. Did it feel good?
Gil: Yeah, it was really fun at the time. Until we got yelled at.
Cal: I guess I can understand him being mad. I would be pissed if I caught a bunch of guys doing donuts on my lawn. I mean, I’ve never even heard of something like that before.
Gil: You’ve never heard of anyone doing donuts?
Cal: No. Why, is it a common thing?
Gil: Well, yeah, we used to do it all the time as kids. We’d pick a guy we hated, get a bunch of guys and do donuts on his lawn. You know, so when he gets home he sees his lawn and it’s all fucked up.
Cal: As kids??? Wow, how have I never heard of this, it sounds amazing!
Gil: It’s really nothing special, it was just fun because it was such a big lawn and you didn’t have to worry about hitting anything.
Cal: Yeah, I have that problem a lot.
Gil: So anyway, what are you up to tonight? Cal. Cal? CAL!
Cal: What? Oh, sorry, I was just thinking about this girl I met last night.
Gil: Oh, I thought you were still thinking about doing donuts.
Cal: I was. There’s a huge field down the street, do you wanna get in your car, drive over there and do some?
Gil: Um, why not, that could be fun. I’ll go get the car.
Cal: Nice! I’ll go get the donuts!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Amputeens: Episode 1, Part 3

Roger swung open the driver's side door, letting it rest open on its hinges. He approached the scene unfolding up the road, first jogging then, as his eyes brought things into focus, accelerating to a full sprint.

As he closed the gap, everything slowed but maintained a sort of dull blur. Two cars in a twisted embrace of mangled metal and rubber, positioned as if heedless of the double yellow line bisecting Pleasant Street. An overweight man in a dirty undershirt. A snarl curled by anger, Jim Beam and likely a lifetime of blue collar servitude. A burly forearm thrusting through the open driver's side window of the car in front. A female face with the blank countenance of a woman experiencing the unlikeliest of Monday mornings.

Roger halted his gate with a sneakers-on-concrete squeak behind the man. Without hesitation, he hooked his right arm around the man's swollen, grimy neck, reaching up with his left elbow to lock him in a makeshift sleeper hold. He drove backwards with his legs, pulling the man by the throat away from the now flailing woman who was hanging out the window of her Mazda 626, half in and half out.

As the man struggled to reach behind him and address the agent of this unexpectedly uncomfortable predicament, Roger slowly lowered to his knees, bringing the man onto the seat of his navy blue Carhardt pants in the process. He maintained his hold around the man's neck, gradually loosening as the man's ability to struggle ebbed. When the man slipped out of consciousness, Roger released him. His head hit the pavement with a soft thud. Roger stood up and, seeing the small crowd that had gathered, had the familiar sensation of having gone through an entire experience without hearing a thing. The sensation, or lack thereof, was not a pleasant one and he briefly wondered why it occurred before stepping over the crumpled man and approaching the woman, still folded awkwardly out her car door.

Roger reached down and offered the woman his hand, pulling her up as she slid back into her car.

"You OK?" he asked almost indifferently.

"Um, yeah, I'm fine. Thank you. I...thank you."

But Roger was already walking back down the road to his Nissan.

The incident wouldn't make the evening news. It wouldn't even make the local paper. But one person saw the entire event unfold, from start to finish. And he would be the one who would change Roger's life.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Bacon Gap

June 30, 2008

MEDFORD, MA—The Lighthouse restaurant on High Street serves breakfast and lunch to local residents from 6 AM until 3 PM seven days a week. Despite the range of colorful characters who dine at The Lighthouse with varying degrees of regularity, some things are always the same according to owner, Pat O'Malley. "Every guy orders bacon. Not all the women do. Some do. But to my knowledge, every single man who's come in here in our 10-year history has ordered bacon and eaten it all." So you can imagine Pat's surprise when something very different occurred yesterday at 9:30 AM.

"So this guy walks in, must've been 5'10", 180", dark hair, you know, just a regular looking guy," O'Malley continues. "So Michelle--that's our hostess--seats him right over [in the corner]. I goes over to take his order and I remember exactly what he orders. I've always had a good memory for that. This guy, he orders a Wagons West. That's our name for our Western omelette. We like to give them fun names. Like, our Spanish omelette is called the Spanish Indigestion. You know, like that. But anyway, he orders a Wagons West, an OJ and a side of white toast. So a few minutes later I bring him his food with a side of bacon. See, most people these days don't bother to mention the bacon because we know they all want it. So like I said, I bring him the food with the bacon. He says, 'I didn't order bacon.' I says, 'Oh, I just assumed you wanted it.' He says, 'No thanks. I don't really like bacon.' I tell ya, I'd a eaten my hat if I didn't already have a plate of bacon in my hands."

Surprisingly, this is not an isolated incident. Reports have been filtering in from across the country, claiming that some men are turning down the opportunity to order, buy or even taste bacon. So what is the cause of this? Are men simply losing their taste for bacon? A new study suggests that might be the case.

Dr. Carleton Westgate, a research professor at West Carolina State Junior College of New Jersey, spent the last 6 years analyzing bacon consumption among American males, age 42-48. "When I first began testing, men averaged about 12 strips of bacon a day," Westgate explains. "And now they're at about 12.5. I know that sounds like an increase in consumption, but you have to realize that in the 6 years previous to testing, bacon consumption had risen about 16%. And now it's at just over 4%. So, yeah, I guess we'll still increasing our pork intake, but at a much lower rate."

When asked about his testing methods, Westgage confesses, "It was easy. I just counted how many strips of bacon I ate each day for six years. I know it was a sample of one, but I'm a pretty average guy, so the way I figure it, my bacon consumption is pretty close to average, too."

Since adult bacon consumption isn't yet in decline, the answers lie elsewhere. One source is the educational system. It has become increasingly clear the United States is no longer the world leader in bacon consumption. Asian and Indian students now consistently score higher on Bacon Capacity Examinations (BCE), widely considered the international standard in pork product intake assessment. This suggests the consumption gap is due largely to the poor quality and quantity of bacon in American elementary schools, a problem that has been growing for 25 years.

Carleton sees the issue firsthand. "When I was in school, we could get bacon on everything. Eggs in the morning, American chop suey at lunch...everything. Now my son is lucky if he gets 3 strips with his sloppy joe. He complains about it, but there's not much we can do. It's the responsibility of the schools."

And until schools and community realize how far Americans are slipping in the global bacon race, a future without bacon seems terrifyingly likely.